Thursday, August 26, 2010

Godwin, Not Goodwin

File this one under 'Puritan historical triva': the classic historical treatise entitled Moses and Aaron. Civil and Ecclesiastical Rites used by the ancient Hebrews observed, and at large opened for the clearing of many obscure Texts throughout the whole Scripture (1625) was written not by Thomas Goodwin, the famous Westminster Divine (1600-1680), to whom is often erroneously ascribed its authorship, but rather by Thomas Godwin (also spelled Goodwin or Godwyn) (1587-1643). This authority, says Thomas Hartwell Horne (An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, Vol. 2, p. 156), is a "compendium of Hebrew antiquities [which is] now rather scarce [but] was formerly in great request as a text-book and passed through many editions." In fact, among the many editions, one published in 1694 was edited by Herman Witsius, who added two essays, one on the Jewish theocracy and one on the Rechabites; the most highly regarded edition seems to be that of Johann Heinrich Hottinger, published in 1710. The work has been cited as authority by many other Puritans, including George Gillespie, in Aaron's Rod Blossoming, and Edward Taylor, in Upon the Types of the Old Testament, and Alfred Edersheim, among other more modern scholars. Moses and Aaron has been reprinted in 2003 by Kessinger Publishing and in 2010 by BiblioBazaar.

Thomas Godwin himself was a learned scholar and writer, as well as a educator of young men. He served as the headmaster of Abingdon School from 1608 to 1625, and while there he founded a scholarship for poor boys, known as 'Bennett Boys'. He also wrote a study of Roman Antiquities which was often bound with Moses and Aaron. In the preface to Romanæ Historiæ Anthologia. An English Exposition of the Roman Antiquities, wherein many Roman and English Offices are parallelled, and diverse obscure Phrases explained (1614), he makes mention of the conditions under which he wrote while at the school: "If it fail to please, put it down to the whispered chatterings of the noisy boys amongst whom the work had its origin; but if approved ascribe it to the continuous questionings of the boys." He got into a dispute with William Twisse in his old age over another book by Godwin, Three Arguments to prove Election upon Foresight of Faith, and Samuel Clarke reports that Twisse "whipt this old Schoolmaster" (The lives of sundry eminent persons in this later age, Part 1, p. 16). His widow raised a monument to him after his death, which preceded the convening of the Westminster Assembly by a few months.

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